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Free Content Military Parachuting Injuries, Associated Events, and Injury Risk Factors

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Knapik JJ, Steelman R, Grier T, Graham B, Hoedebecke K, Rankin S, Klug K, Proctor S, Jones BH. Military parachuting injuries, associated events, and injury risk factors. Aviat Space Environ Med 2011; 82:797–804.

Introduction: The purpose of this investigation was to examine injury incidence, events associated with injury, and injury risk factors during parachuting in an Army airborne infantry unit. Methods: Injury data were obtained by the investigators on the drop zone and confirmed by a physician. Operational data (potential injury risk factors) were obtained from routine reports published by the infantry unit. Weather data were obtained using a Kestrel® Model 4500 pocket weather tracker. Results: There were a total of 23,031 jumps resulting in 242 injured soldiers for a crude injury incidence of 10.5 per 1000 jumps. Parachute entanglement incidence was 0.5 per 1000 jumps. Where an event associated with the injury could be determined (67% of cases), these included ground impact (75%), static line problems (11%), tree landings (4%), entanglements (4%), and aircraft exits (3%). Univariate analysis showed that higher injury risk was associated with night jumps (versus day jumps), combat loads (versus unloaded jumps), higher wind speeds, higher dry bulb temperatures, higher humidity, C17 Globemaster or C130 Hercules aircrafts (compared to the other aircraft), exits through aircraft side doors (versus tailgates), and entanglements. Multivariate analysis indicated that independent risk factors for injuries included night jumps, combat loads, higher wind speeds, higher dry bulb temperatures, and entanglements. Discussion: This investigation provided injury incidence, events associated with injury, and quantitative assessments of injury risk factors and their interactions during military parachuting. An appreciation of these subjects can assist medical and operational planners in further reducing the incidence of injury during airborne operations.

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Keywords: aircraft; combat loads; drop zone; entanglements; night; temperature; wind speed

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2011

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